Year in Review: 2021
Year of Major life change
In keeping with my annual tradition [been successfully following it since 2018 now], I have spent couple days at the start of new year taking stock of the things I’ve done and missed over the past 12 months.
I look at this annual exercise as a way to hold myself accountable. It helps me realign on what goals I’m trying to optimize for and reassess the strategy for the next year. While it’s difficult to quantify everything that we do on a daily basis, this forces me to retrieve data on the things I consider most important and stare at the harsh reality that the numbers bear.
Here’s a look-back at how this topsy turvy year went for me:
Career Growth & Alignment
- Promotion ✅
- US to UK 🔀
SDE1 to SDE2 Promo
Banking on the success of AWS Re:Invent 2020 launch of Sagemaker Distributed Data Parallel library, I was able to secure a promotion during Q1 ’21 review. I’d be remiss if I fail to thank my incredibly supportive manager-turned-friend Sandeep for enabling this opportunity for progression.
Work in 🇬🇧
Once the promo was secured and officially updated to “Mid-level” Software Engineer, I shifted focus towards finding a job in UK to be closer to family. Here’s what I achieved in 3 months [Apr to Jun ‘21]
I’d have to thank my friends who referred me into couple companies, LeetCode, pramp.io peers for helping me pull off this big move.
Compared to 2020, I got more gym sessions under my belt this year. I don’t have data to back the number of times I worked out in 2020 [owing to lack of gym visits]. Had I captured 2020 data, I could visualize following graph much better.
Post the switch from Bay area to London, I’d consciously decided to join the gym and start working out regularly. Also, unlike 2019, I wanted to make sure I don’t bulk up this time. I had to incorporate few changes in the gym routine to get onto the lean physique workout.
- 15min cardio or 1mile run
- Less reps more weight
Meta/FB has limit of 75 referrals and I hit that limit in 5months. Out of the 75, 3 were offered their role, 6 reached full-loop stage and 6 others failed at screening stage. To add to that, I must have referred to 10+ candidates at Amazon during 6 months there, of which 2 got hired at full-time roles. Unfortunately, I don’t have official count of my $AMZ referrals. This is more than just a muscle 💪 flex.
I take referring seriously and I believe it’s one of the multiple ways of “paying it forward”. In the process of reviewing a candidate’s resume/profile, I try to give suggestions for improvement.
After looking at 10+ resumés with wonky Linkedin URLs, I ended up posting on the LinkedIn about this feature that customizes/personalizes the profile URL.
Chaitanya Bapat on LinkedIn: Help
Since many people I talk to on LinkedIn [those seeking jobs / referrals] aren't aware about it, sharing it with the…
This is a cosmetic change but something that’s easy to fix and nice-to-have.
Test match @ Lords
💰 Personal Finances (2021: 26%, 2020: 69%)
Apart from the statistically significant [stat-sig] lower returns this year compared to the previous one, I’m calling this section out as a “lowlight” as a reflection of my mental model.
While I basked in glory for past 3 years owing to the user-friendly, purposeful apps, it only took one decision to strip me off their riches.
Lack of internationalization / lack of overseas support by all but 1 investment apps I was using, gave me a hard time for 2 months.
Silver lining: This allowed me to put the house in order. Instead of using disparate sources [Stash for ETFs, Acorns for robot investing, Robinhood for stocks & crypto, Fidelity for 401k], I consolidated them [and liquidated few assets / fractional shares in the process] into one broker. Fidelity supports overseas nationals [previous US tax-residents] and thus was the perfect solution for me.
₿ Crypto (2021: 🔻$50, 2020: NA)
💡 Decentralized finance comes with a fineprint.
FOMO crept in and on May 6th ’21 I bit the bullet and placed $100 limit buys for ETH Doge & BTC each[initial 3 crypto currencies offered by Robinhood Crypto]. Owing to my move from US to UK, I had to figure out how I’d manage my US brokerage accounts overseas. It turns out
- Robinhood doesn’t support non-US citizens outside USA
- Robinhood Crypto assets couldn’t be transferred to other crypto brokers [for e.g. Coinbase] a.o Q3 ’21
This meant my $750 splurge on crypto was cut short rather too tamely and I had to close my positions within a month [June/July]. In an attempt to reduce my losses, I tried dollar cost averaging which failed miserably. I ended up with a $50 net loss.
📚 Reading: (2021: 7, 2020: 11)
In 2020, I exceeded the challenge by reading 11/10 books while in 2021, I slipped my 12 book mark by a big margin. Well, at least the 2021 reading challenge kept me on my toes and alerted me I’m falling short every month. I enjoyed reading all 7 of these books and ended up taking notes for 5 of them.
At the risk of giving an excuse, I have 5 books on Goodreads which are in “currently reading” state. Had I completed those, I’d have met the reading challenge for the year.
Notes on the books I read:
- Ikigai by
- Jonathan Livingston Seagull
- Things a little bird told me by Biz Stone[about Twitter]
- Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
- If you can
Feel free to add me [if you’re a goodreads.com user]
Chaitanya Bapat has 250 books on Goodreads, and is currently reading The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly…
✍️ Blogs (2021: 5, 2020: 14)
While I wasn’t actively working towards cranking out more medium articles in 2021, I feel I should still call it out as a lowlight [quantitatively speaking].
5 articles that I did end up scribbling:
- Regret minimisation framework IRL
- From single-cell row to markdown table
- Can I dream what you dream?
- EVs 101
- Nomenclature of shared libraries
While physical health was on song, dental wasn’t quite up to the mark. However, this should also have been a lowlight for 2020 given that the seeds of decay were sown way earlier than 2021. In 2021, I had to undergo 10+ dental fillings and 2 root canals [up from 0 in 2020]. However, armed with water flosser, electric tooth brush, consistency and high-fluoride toothpaste, I hope to see dentist less often and for less severe interventions, going forward.
🔗 Website: Personal website continues to be in “keep the lights on” mode. chaibapchya.github.io
🔌 Electronics: Waterpik Water Flosser [For detailed analysis of various water flossers out there in the market, check this notion page. Oral B Electric toothbrush, gifted by Shriya.
💡 Life’s short. Make the most of it.
💡 Talk to your loved ones.
I lost my paternal grandmom to heart attack on Feb 26, 2021. Most definitely the worst moment of the year for me. I consistently get reminded of her, either due to music, her peculiar Marathi phrases/idioms or cooking ability or otherwise. Silver lining through all that was she had a “relatively” peaceful passage to the heavenly abode. 🕉️ Shanti.
💡 There’s value in stockpiling PTOs, for using them up in case of family emergency / medical emergency.
💡 Novelty of working 9pm to 6am [IST] wore off pretty quickly and weird sleep cycle combined with lethargic rest of the afternoon/evening was all that remained afterwards.
💡 WFH ✅ , WFH from India for Pacific time ❌
- Be aware of flight cancellations due to covid
- Don’t panic-buy other multi-layover flights (even if from reputable/reliable carriers!)
- Be mindful of visa issues for transit flights [me personally sticking to direct flights going forward]
Lesson learnt — Only invest in stocks that are at least 50% below their 52-week high.
- Employees [SDE1s] are dispensable.
Either be indispensable or be ready to interview
- Interviews are not that hard 😈
- Interview prep can be intoxicating 🥴
Either be indispensable or be ready to interview
💥 Crashed the car against the garage storage door 🚪
At times, when one thing goes wrong, everything starts going wrong. It’s a cascaded disaster. During such times, it’s important to stay calm; not loose cool, not let 1 mishap lead to another due to overthinking. Keeping calm ensures you can rely on your presence of mind and be in the right mindset.
At times, you don’t control what’s happening to you.
Try your best and don’t fret about the rest.
💡 It feels good to be close to the people you truly love.
💡 People over everything else.
💡 Embrace change. Change is the only constant. Change is good.
💡 When faced with two equally good options, go with the one you’ll regret the most if you don’t choose that option.
Regret minimisation framework IRL
Selecting your next team w/ Jeff Bezos’ famous approach
Despite both $AMZN and $META being part of this exclusive club of “Big Tech”, their cultures are unique and dissimilar. One of the striking dissimilarities I learnt immediately was the engineering & leadership direction methodology — “bottom-up” nominal vs actual. At Meta [then $FB], I noticed the absence of top-down thrust in direction and autonomy in decision-making was visible even lower down the hierarchy. While it’s early days for me at Meta, this was a liberating prospect and a bit nerve-wracking as well.
💡 Fortune favours the brave. With conviction, universe does conspire and luck does follow suit.
If you try hard enough and your will is strong enough, you can get picked in the lottery of applicants for an exam that has been elusive to book for the past 2 years [owing to Covid and the skewed supply-demand].
💡 When the music 🎼 is on and you’re in doubt 🤔, just dance 🕺 Go for it.
💉 Booster dose of Moderna
📚 Read 12 books
🚘 Drive 100+km in 🇬🇧 for a roadtrip
🏋️♀️ 15x per month i.e. 180x for the year
💻 Take 50+ interviews at Meta
👔 Refer 75 eligible, aptly matched candidates [measure: get 5+ offers]
🦷 0 rootcanals, <2 fillings, 2 appointments [bi-annual]
🪥 365x and flossing 365x